Puerto Rico is a wonderful island in the Caribbean. A US territory, it has a rich culture and way of doing things all of its own. I really love how the Caribbean island culture takes a slight steer from its US influence but is very much its own thing.
Just a short domestic flight away from Miami, although one hour ahead of there, there are stark contrasts between the city life in San Juan and many other areas of the island. There is a rich history here and of course mixed views about the level of US involvement that there should be.
This could probably be called a fairly brief trip but I tried to fit in as much as possible. My highlights included:
The San Sebastián street festival: this is a huge outdoor party taking over the city for a weekend, marking the end of a long holiday season (great to see the Christmas trees up and fully decorated in the Caribbean in late January!) Music, food, great things to do and a party atmosphere bringing people together from across Puerto Rico and beyond. I must admit that it was just good fortune that I was here to experience SanSe, but I’m so glad I was.
El Yunque: the only tropical rainforest that’s part of the US national forest system, El Yunque is a huge expanse of plant and animal life that gives rise to stunning views wherever you happen to be. There’s at least one observation tower which provides an ideal vantage point from which to take in this natural paradise. It’s an assault on all the senses, particularly when it’s raining.
People and language: something needs to be said for the friendliness and positivity of everyone I met along the way. I also enjoyed the informal language mixing English and Spanish, switching back and forth frequently. This great blend of cultures is reflected elsewhere on the island. I would say the same about the people and language in Gibraltar, although the mixing of the languages appears to be less common there.
Old San Juan: with the mixture of fortifications and cobbled streets, it was a great place to explore the history and soak up the atmosphere.
Birthplace of the Piña Colada (allegedly): speaks for itself really.